Monday, September 22, 2008

MAMMA MIA! Unabashedly Campy But Fun

MAMMA MIA! (musical)
Cast: Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan (both pictured), Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski
Director: Phyllida Lloyd

Time: 108 mins
Rating: * * *
(out of 4)

PREAMBLE: After a dose of Beatlemania with 'Across The Universe', we get another yesteryear musical in 'Mamma Mia!' - based on the songs of ABBA. However, unlike 'Universe', this one is unabashedly campy - with all of its cast breaking out into song, if not dance. It is exactly what you can expect from ex-ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus who are executive producers of the movie together with Tom Hanks, Mark Huffam and Rita Wilson.

THE SKINNY: On an idyllic Greek island, young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is set to marry Sky (Dominic Cooper). Never knowing the
identity of her father, Sophie decides to invite three of her mother's former lovers - suave architect and divorcee Sam (Pierce Brosnan), lonely but wealthy investment banker Harry (Colin Firth), and hippy world traveler Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) - to her wedding. Her mother Donna (Meryl Streep), who runs a bed and breakfast on the island, has invited her former band members, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) to the ceremony but is unaware that her former beaus are also descending on the island. The details of the story are gleaned from some of the lyrics of ABBA's songs...

THE CRITIQUE: While 'Across The Universe' may be seen as an ode to the work of the Beatles, 'Mamma Mia!' is a celebration - an
energetic and vibrant festival of ABBA music. While the former plods along trying to develop its characters, Mamma Mia! seems to throw its cast of veterans together and let them groove to the music. Indeed, it can be both fun and painful to see Streep and Brosnan breaking into song. However, if you allow yourself to be carried away by ABBA's foot-tapping songs, you will warm up to its Bollywood-styled campiness.

The breath-taking scenery of the Greek islands and its locales provides a suitable holiday backdrop.
It is fun to watch the older talents making a fool of themselves - and even surprising us with their antics. Streep, for example, does an amazing mid-air split - and even takes a dunking. And just to hear Brosnan sing is worth the price of admission. Newcomer Seyfried has a great voice and she should reach the status level of Vanessa Hudgens of 'High School Musical' fame after this outing.

THE VERDICT: Never mind that this is Mom and Dad's type of movie, it is also a funfilled singalong for the youngsters.


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